TACLOBAN, Philippines – A strong, shallow earthquake shook the central Philippines on Thursday, leaving at least two people dead and injuring more than 100, including several in a collapsed building where others were trapped, officials said.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a magnitude of 6.5 and struck at a depth of 4 miles in Leyte province. Filipino seismologists measured the depth at just 1.2 miles and said the quake, caused by movement of the Philippine Fault, was felt most strongly in Leyte’s Kananga town.
Shallow earthquakes generally cause more damage on the Earth’s surface.
A building collapsed in Kananga, killing one person, injuring more than 20 others and trapping at least six, Kananga Mayor Rowena Codilla told DZMM radio.
One person was pulled out from the building alive but injured, Codilla said. She said rescuers are digging a hole in an effort to reach the six others.
“They’re alive because they are communicating with our disaster people,” she said, adding that the rescuers were moving carefully to prevent the rest of the building from tumbling down.
The building had a grocery store, a hardware store and a beauty parlor on the ground floor and a guest house on the second floor, she said.
The quake caused power outages in Kananga and outlying areas.
Thousands of residents, office workers and students fled from homes, buildings and schools, with some falling over as the ground shook. Many refused to return home because of aftershocks.
Mayor Richard Gomez of Ormoc city, about 17 miles from Kananga, told DZMM that a landslide hit a house and killed a young woman. More than 100 others were injured in the area, including many who were “traumatized and hysterical,” he said.
The strong shaking caused cracks in some buildings and roads in the city and power was automatically shut off, Gomez said.
Ormoc’s airport will be closed starting Friday to allow an inspection, officials said.
Delia Vilbar, the treasurer of Ormoc, said she was attending a meeting on the second floor of City Hall when the earthquake struck.
“It was very strong, and the building was shaking,” she said. “I sat down while others in the room went under the table.”
When she went outside to the street, she saw people crying and embracing each other, she said.
Asked about the earthquake, President Rodrigo Duterte, who was visiting southern Bukidnon province, said he had not received any reports of major damage.
The quake struck in a region that was devastated in November 2013 by Typhoon Haiyan, which whipped up huge waves that left more than 7,300 people dead or missing, leveled entire villages and displaced more than 5 million villagers. Tacloban city, which was hard hit by Haiyan, lost electrical power after Thursday’s earthquake.
The Philippines sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” where earthquakes and volcanoes are common. A magnitude 7.7 quake killed nearly 2,000 people in the northern Philippines in 1990.
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